Embattled Embree gets support from prez; program blasted by ex-Buff


To say that the tenure of Jon Embree at Colorado has gotten off to an underwhelming start would be an understatement of epic proportions.

After winning just three games his first season, Embree’s Buffs started 2012 by losing to in-state rival Colorado State — and things have only gone down hill from there.  CU followed up that loss with a home defeat at the hands of FCS-level Sacramento State, then followed that up with a 55-point drubbing at the hands of Fresno State that saw the Bulldogs drop 55 points and roll-up over 500 yards of offense in the first half alone.

That sad state of affairs has prompted some, a mere 16 games into head-coaching career of the former CU player and assistant, to call for Embree’s head on a platter, silver or otherwise.  At least for now, though, one very prominent CU official is not paying heed to the screams for change.

Reacting to the calls for Embree’s dismissal, CU president Bruce Benson instead called for patience among the fan base and alumni as the football program attempts to rebuild from five straight losing seasons — the first time in the school’s history that had happened — under the previous head coach.

“I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, ‘This is the best set of coaches we’ve ever had and we’re really behind them and they’re great guys,'” Benson said according to the Denver Post. “Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve seen people upset. All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding. …

There’s no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we’re going to play it out. We’re going to rebuild and be positive and move forward.”

One former player, however, has come out with verbal guns blazing and aimed squarely at the football program.

In an expansive talk with the Daily Camera, Denver radio personality Matt McChesney, who was a player during Embree’s and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy‘s stints as Buffs assistants, blasted the state of CU football, labeling it a “disgrace” and “the worst program in the nation.”

While not calling (yet) for the firing of either Embree or Bieniemy, McChesney said “if I was in charge, Greg Brown would be fired today,” referring to CU’s defensive coordinator.  On that he might have a valid argument.

Last season, Colorado ranked 109th in scoring defense (36.5 points per game) and 102nd (439.3 yards per game) nationally.  This season, the Buffs are 112th (40.3 ppg) and 106th (479.7 ypg) in those categories.

And, even as he has somewhat tepid support for Embree, he’s putting the onus on the state of the football program squarely on his shoulders, and not that of the former head coach who left the program in tatters.

“I’d like to give Embree and E.B., the benefit of the doubt, but it’s really hard for me to do that after 69 points to Fresno and losing to Sac State and losing to CSU, and then having to look at our conference schedule the way we do,” McChesney said. “I mean, I don’t see a team that we can score a touchdown on let alone win. They’re going to all score 60 points on us.

“I’m not going to blame Dan Hawkins. I’ll tell you that. I’m not going to be that guy who just blames the old coach. This is Embree’s watch. It’s his responsibility.”

Unfortunately for Embree’s supporters, and likely to the delight of his detractors, it will get a helluva lot worse before it gets any better.The Buffs this weekend will begin a streak of nine straight Pac-12 games, with five of those coming against conference teams currently ranked inside the Top 25 of the most recent rankings.

Following that daunting gauntlet, we’ll see if the administration, including Benson and athletic director Mike Bohn, remains squarely in Embree’s corner.

Former Navy LB Caleb King killed in fighter jet crash

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A routine U.S. Navy training flight that ended in tragedy had a college football connection.

Earlier this week, two Navy aviators were killed when a fighter jet crashed off the coast of Key West, Florida, this past Wednesday.  Those who lost their lives were, according to the Associated Press, Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King, who served in the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VFA-213).  Johnson was the pilot of the aircraft.

“[T]he aircraft crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field following a training mission,” Military.com wrote.  While details are scant at the moment, below is from that website’s report:

The crash happened around 4:30 p.m., Hecht said. Both pilots onboard the Super Hornet ejected, he said. Initially, Hecht said a search-and-rescue effort for the aircrew was still ongoing around 6 PM, but later he said the pilots were recovered within minutes and taken by ambulance to the medical center.

An eyewitness, Barbie Wilson, told Military.com the crash “looked like something out of a movie.”

Wilson, who lives on the back side of the air station, said she stopped to watch an F/A-18 flying overhead, as she often does, and was shocked to see what appeared to be a massive malfunction in midair.

“Literally, the wings went vertical, and there was a fireball, and it just literally dropped out of the sky,” Wilson said.

King (pictured, left) was a linebacker for the Midshipmen football team from 2009-11.  He played in 38 games during his time at the military academy.

“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the entire King family,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in a statement. “We lost a dear brother and warrior. The entire Navy Football Brotherhood mourns the passing of a great American. We love you Caleb!”

Temple’s on-campus stadium plans stall after city council meeting

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The dream of Temple football playing in an on-campus stadium appears as though it’s on hold after a Philadelphia city council meeting got heated once again and resulted in the pulling of support by a key local leader.

Per KYW 1060, City Council President Darrell Clarke told the radio station that he would not support the reported $125 million project at a meeting earlier this week. Though the university leadership remains focused on making the new stadium happen eventually, the dwindling support from those in the community have basically stalled the effort and puts into question where the team will play football in 2020 and beyond.

Protestors against the stadium being built already interrupted a town hall meeting on the project last week.

“We do not feel that a 35,000 seat stadium fits in a residential block,” said Reverend Bill Moore, who is part several local groups pushing to ax the project.

Temple had signed an extension on their lease with nearby Lincoln Financial Field (the home of the Philadelphia Eagles) but that agreement runs only through the 2019 season. The hope had been to get the new on-campus stadium built by the time the 2020 campaign rolled around but that is looking increasingly unlikely as local residents — and now city council members — become more and more vocal in their opposition to the project.

The university has not issued a formal statement on their next steps after this latest setback but at least the team itself is moving forward as usual with spring football already under the way in Philly.

Study says War Memorial Stadium needs millions in upgrades to remain in use for Arkansas games in Little Rock

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Just like an old house, older stadiums require tons of money to keep them up to date. Those in the state of Arkansas are very aware of that when it comes to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that a study commissioned by the state has found that roughly $17 million worth of repairs, maintenance work and improvements are needed at War Memorial if the 70 year old venue wants to remain in operation. The timeline for such changes were listed as anywhere from three years for “critical” issues to five years for other items, which come as part of a whopping $160,000 study from Conventions Sport & Leisure International LLC.

The millions of dollars of work required is notable because the Fayetteville-based Razorbacks have annually played a game at the stadium in Little Rock dating back to 1948. The team will not only host their first spring game under new coach Chad Morris at the venue but will also play Ole Miss in Little Rock during the upcoming season. That contest is the last scheduled game for Arkansas at War Memorial however as the contract to hold games there is expiring in 2018.

It remains to be seen what the next steps are for UA football, the state and the venue are. Even prior to this most recent study being commissioned, the Razorbacks were looking to have as much as $10 million worth of work done at the stadium to meet their own requirements and those of the SEC in general for conference play.

“Discussions are continuing” Kevin Trainor, associate athletics director at Arkansas, said in an emailed statement to the paper.

Could this be the last we see of the Razorbacks in Little Rock? Given the history between the city, stadium and team it would seem doubtful but somebody’s got to pay for renovations and it may be a while before anybody ponies up the cash needed to get the venerable old building up to date.

Sean McDonough on leaving Monday Night Football: College football is more fun

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While we’re not exactly formal media critics here at CFTalk, you really don’t have to have too much experience watching television to know that ESPN’s Sean McDonough calling Monday Night Football the past two years was a bit of a round peg in a square hole. The veteran play-by-play man has called a lot of major sporting events over the years but was known to most prior to his NFL stint as one of the regular voices on the college football circuit after all.

McDonough is just now starting to open up about his departure from MNF and is perhaps not surprisingly excited at the prospect of returning to the college level, which he insists was his decision. Awful Announcing passes along an interview he did with Boston area radio program The Kirk & Callahan Show this week and let’s just say that McDonough confirms what we already know about which sport is better if you’re picking between the NFL and college football.

“I say that after a lot of reflection and mostly a lot of belief that, ultimately, what is the most important thing in life is to be happy,” McDonough said. “As much as it was a great honor to be the voice of ‘Monday Night Football’ –– and you guys know me well enough, and certainly a lot of my friends and family do –– it wasn’t a tremendous amount of fun the last two years. When I took my ego out of it, when the conversation about a reboot of MNF came up, when I took the ego part of it out, and rationalized it, I really could be fine with  not being the voice of MNF, then it became easy. I love college football. For me, it’s more fun, and that’s a personal taste.”

Amen Sean, amen.

While it is great news that CFB is getting back McDonough, the sport’s gain is tempered by the loss of fellow play-by-play man Joe Tessitore, who will be taking over in the MNF booth calling games. Something says that the esteemed JoeTess will do a great job calling NFL games every Monday night but will, like McDonough, come to miss the excitement, wild endings and colorful presentation that happens at the college level every Saturday.